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MP’s question government’s action on climate change in light of speech by Pope Francis

June 18, 2015

House of Commons Debates, 41st Parl, 2nd Sess, No 234 (18 June 2015) at 15289.

House of Commons Debates, 41st Parl, 2nd Sess, No 234 (18 June 2015) at 15290.

House of Commons Debates, 41st Parl, 2nd Sess, No 234 (18 June 2015) at 15296.

House of Commons Debates, 41st Parl, 2nd Sess, No 234 (18 June 2015) at 15298.



  • Mr. Speaker, Pope Francis has just released his encyclical on climate change.

    Over the centuries, great prophets have denounced injustice and spoken truth to power, often at great personal risk. In more modern times, Wilberforce denounced the scourge of slavery in the British Empire. Bishop Desmond Tutu fearlessly led the fight against apartheid. Reverend Tommy Douglas denounced the injustice of tying health care to the size of one’s bank account. Pope John Paul II is best remembered as the spiritual godfather of the demise of communism.

    Into this prophetic role stepped Pope Francis this week. In a comprehensive, well-researched, and penetrating account of climate change, the Pope zeroed in on the injustice that allows the rich to get richer on the backs of those least able to adapt. Like the prophets of old, he denounced the cavalier indifference of the smug and the affluent.

    If the Conservative government does not get the science and chooses to ignore the economics, surely it will listen to Pope Francis. To ignore faith, science, and economics is to define smug indifference.

    Hon. John McKay

    Scarborough—Guildwood, Lib.

  • [later at 15290]

    Mr. Speaker, today Pope Francis issued a wake-up call. Climate change is a threat, and the world’s poorest people will suffer the most. This is not just an environmental issue; it is a moral issue. Canada must cut emissions and ensure that less-developed countries have the financing they need to tackle climate change. Only the NDP has a plan to tackle climate change and put a price on carbon.

    Did the Prime Minister’s short 10 minutes with the Pope make it obvious that nobody believes the current government’s talking points?

    Ms. Megan Leslie

    Halifax, NDP

  • Mr. Speaker, we are taking a leadership role on the international stage. We have helped more than 65 developing countries reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. Also, our party was the founding member of the Climate and Clean Air Coalition. We are also doing our part by contributing to the green climate fund.

    We are also addressing short-lived climate pollutants during Canada’s Arctic Council chairmanship and will continue to do that and do our part to protect our environment while keeping our economy strong.

    Hon. Leona Aglukkaq

    Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council, CPC

  • [later at 15296]

    Mr. Speaker, Pope Francis unequivocally agrees with those who believe that human activity is contributing to climate change. In other words, he agrees with scientists and politicians who are calling for urgent action.

    He also evoked the moral obligation to act, the obligation to respect the environment and ensure that the least fortunate, who are paying the price for global warming, can live in dignity.

    Will the Prime Minister finally admit that there is a problem and commit to ensuring that Canada takes its place among the countries that are taking climate change seriously?

    Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia

    Lac-Saint-Louis, Lib.

  • Mr. Speaker, as I stated earlier, Canada has supported over 65 developing countries in a number of areas. In fact, our contributions, our financing has supported various initiatives on climate change in developing countries. A portion of the financing is going toward construction, operation and maintenance of the first geothermal power facility in Indonesia, as an example. This will be the largest geothermal power project in the world.

    Once completed, the geothermal power facility is expected to eliminate 1.3 megatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year. This is an example of Canada’s contribution to the elimination of greenhouse gas emissions.

    Hon. Leona Aglukkaq

    Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council, CPC

  • Mr. Speaker, Pope Francis issued a powerful encyclical about the ravages of climate change. He has decried the injustice of those who allow the rich to get richer on the backs of those least able to adapt to climate change. The Conservatives have smugly ignored the economics and science of climate change.

    If the Conservative government does not get the science and refuses to ignore the economics, surely the Conservatives will listen to the clarion call of Pope Francis. To ignore faith, science and economics is to define smug ignorance. Will they at least listen to the Pope?

    Hon. John McKay

    Scarborough—Guildwood, Lib.

  • Mr. Speaker, here is another example of Canada’s contribution in helping 65 countries in the world. A portion of the financing that we have invested is supporting two of the first commercial scale wind farm initiatives in Peru. Once completed, this wind farm is expected to displace 440,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year. These wind farms are also expected to supply Peru’s national grid with 130 megawatts of renewable energy capacity. This is another example of Canada’s contribution to the global community in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    Hon. Leona Aglukkaq

    Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council, CPC

  • [later at 15298]

    Mr. Speaker, it has been referenced a few times in the House during question period that His Holiness Pope Francis has issued an extraordinarily powerful encyclical, a rare event from the Vatican, and I want to quote in part what he said:

    We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels — especially coal… — needs to be progressively replaced without delay.

    Given the Prime Minister’s acceptance of the G7 language for decarbonization, he appears to agree, except for the part “without delay”.

    Given that the Prime Minister believes this can happen in 85 years, can the minister tell us if it can happen by mid-century?

    Ms. Elizabeth May

    Saanich—Gulf Islands, GP

  • Mr. Speaker, Canada was the first country in the world to ban traditional coal-fired electricity.

    I want to share with hon. members an example of what we are doing to support the global community in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. One financing project that is under way is the solar plant in Uruguay. Once completed, the solar plant is expected to eliminate approximately 18,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year. The solar plant is also expected to supply the Uruguay national grid with an average of 96,000 megawatts per year.

    This is another example of our support for the global community in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

    Hon. Leona Aglukkaq

    Minister of the Environment, Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and Minister for the Arctic Council, CPC

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